Christmas is only seven days away! While some homes chose to opt out of a holiday display this year, many families and neighborhoods are continuing the tradition this holiday season.
So put on your favorite Christmas tunes, grab some hot chocolate and drive to these holiday displays around town for a festive experience.
Spindler Family Light Show, Georgetown
With over 28,000 LED lights, 17 lighted trees and a computerized light show, the Spindler family is continuing the tradition of lighting up their Georgetown home located at 2441 Candle Ridge Trail. The family is celebrating their eighth annual light show, and families around town have made it a priority to attend. Along with the light show, the Spindler family is collecting unwrapped toys for the Williamson County Brown Santa, which gives presents to kids from low-income families.
Tune in to 88.5 FM while driving through the show for the ultimate experience. The show runs everyday from 6-10 p.m., so grab your friends and family and head over to the Spindler Family Light Show. More information can be found on their Facebook page.
Chinati Court, Cedar Park
Despite the pandemic, the Chinati Court cul-de-sac is lighting up the whole street for a safe, socially distanced light experience. The display of lights is a contribution from different families in the cul-de-sac, offering a walk-through or drive-thru experience. The families ask that you socially distance in groups of six if you chose to walk through the displays. The holiday show will also be taking in donations for Brown Santa. More information on the Chinati Court holiday show can be found on their Facebook page.
Rhodes Family Christmas, Cedar Park
The Rhodes Family Christmas will continue lighting up Cedar Park for the 20th year in a row. The family is encouraging people to drive by and enjoy the Christmas spirit after a challenging year. The holiday display is also a collection site for the Cedar Park Area Food Bank. The display will run until Jan. 1 from 5:45-10 p.m. at 2410 Sharon Dr., so drive by for a shiny, festive experience. More information on the Rhodes Family Christmas can be found on their Facebook page.
Maywald Christmas Lights, 10505 Twilight Vista
Maywald Christmas Lights
Over 200,000 lights will illuminate Twilight Vista this year. The Maywalds are continuing a 12-year tradition with this year's display, which is bigger and better than in years past. The display is completely free, but the family asks guests to make a donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation when entering. The event is a walk-through experience, although the family encourages guests to remain socially distant from each other. The display will run everyday until Jan. 3 from 6-10 p.m. More information on the Maywald Christmas Lights can be found here.
Diagon Alley ATX, Slaughter Lane & Bungalow
Have a very Harry Christmas this year by attending Diagon Alley ATX's Christmas show. The display is known in Austin for its Diagon Alley Halloween makeover, but with 2020 being such a tough year, the family turned Diagon Alley into a winter wonderland for a festive holiday experience.
Inspired by the Yule Ball in the fourth Harry Potter book, the display transports you into the wizarding world. The display is free, but donations are being accepted for Foster Angels of Central Texas, Variety Texas and ZACH Theatre. The holiday display runs every half hour Monday through Friday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and until 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. More information on Diagon Alley ATX can be found on their Facebook page.
This is part of a holiday series counting down to Christmas, so make sure to visit Austonia tomorrow, as we reach six days until Christmas.
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In May, Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein looked back on 10 years of Formula 1's U.S. Grand Prix at COTA confident that the race would be here to stay in Texas. But sources tell Austonia that securing another contract may be in jeopardy.
Some insiders worry that COTA's 2021 Grand Prix race might be its last.
The multi-day fest from Oct. 22-24 will include a 56-lap race over the 3.3-mile track, food and musical performances from two acts, including Billy Joel at COTA's 1,500-acre facility in Southeast Austin. But after this year, the U.S.' first F1-specific track could lose its headline event.
The facility's inability to secure a contract thus far comes down to the Texas Legislature, a new threat in Miami, and, most importantly, money.
The first F 1 race will take place in Miami next year. (Hard Rock Stadium)
Every year, Formula 1 receives roughly $25 million from Texas' Major Events Reimbursement Program, a taxpayer-funded initiative that helps bring big sporting events like 2017's Houston Super Bowl to the state. A 2019 report by the Reimbursements Program on that year's race said the "data is inconclusive" on if the event has a positive or negative economic impact on the state with the resources given. In 2018, the Austin-American Statesman reported that COTA had brought back a total of $75.7 million between 2015 and 2017 for hosting the U.S. Grand Prix.
Legal issues have also barred Epstein and Co. from securing another 10-year contract earlier: in 2018, the company lost its yearly $25 million bid after failing to submit a human trafficking prevention plan as part of its yearly application.
That same year, F1 managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches told the Associated Press that the organization hopes to stay at COTA "for many years to come."
However, in May, the racing league announced that it had secured a 10-year contract to hold the Miami Grand Prix as American interest in the sport soared following the three-season "Drive to Survive" documentary, which gives behind-the-scenes looks at drivers and races of the Formula One World Championship.
Epstein is optimistic about the new U.S. location and told Autoweek in May that "more race in our time zones are good for the sport."
"I think we're getting double the impact this way," Epstein said. "Miami should sell out huge the first year and maybe the second year and then after that, I think we'd be spitting audience if we were around the same time on the calendar. So the spread is fantastic."
Bobby Epstein recognizes the 1 millionth customer of COTA in 2013. (COTA/Facebook)
The new F1 venture may impact COTA's contract, however: in an opinion piece for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, writer Mac Engel said Texas is unlikely to fork over taxpayer money if the facility is no longer the only F1 track in the U.S.
According to Engel, the Major Events Reimbursements Program agrees to provide funding only "if Austin holds the only F1 race in the country."
Epstein hasn't addressed such claims; by contrast, he feels as though there's room for a third race in the U.S. as ticket sales rebound after COVID.
"In the first week, we sold pretty much all the tickets we put up for sale and we plan to break the 2019 attendance record," Epstein told Autoweek. "Texas was the first place to lift COVID-19 restrictions (in the U.S.) and put on sporting events, and we're full. We're at 100% capacity.
Despite ventures to diversify revenue at COTA—Epstein's USL soccer team Austin Bold has seen its own share of troubles, and the facility plans to develop into a multi-faceted entertainment arena complete with music venues, a waterpark, condominiums and an 11-story hotel—a loss of its primary event could be devastating for the $300 million complex.
F1 has rarely lasted more than a decade at venues in the U.S. over the last century; let's hope Austin breaks that curse.
COTA's media relations team did not immediately get back to Austonia for comment.
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Houston? Dallas? San Antonio? No, it has to be Austin.
We know Californians love Texas, but a recent string of posts on neighborhood platform Nextdoor in Santa Barbara, California, displays what the craze to move to Austin looks like.
When one user posted, "Hi neighbors, I want to buy a house in Houston, Texas any recommendations?" the responses flooded in displaying what the admiration for Austin looks like from the West Coast. Users mostly advised against a move to Houston; one person even wrote, "Austin is the ONLY place to consider!!"
While some defended H-town, saying, "Awesome place to live," one person wrote, "WORST PLACE TO LIVE." Reasons to not move to Houston from Californians' perspective included:
- "Foul air from refineries"
- "horrible flooding due to the flat Gulf coastal shelf"
- "crazy zoning"
- "racial prejudice"
- "super high humidity"
- "very conservative"
The comments were shifted to Austin's lush greenery, weather and acceptance of gay people.
Over the last five years, Austin has seen more migrants from California than any other state, according to an Austin Chamber of Commerce report. The Austin appeal from residents living in more congested places like California became more prevalent during the pandemic when stay-at-home orders were issued and people sought more space.
It wasn't just Austin though; lots of other Sunbelt cities saw an influx in their housing market as a result of people working from home and looking for a lower cost of living. And that included Texas in general, with people flooding to various Texas cities.
But it hasn't come with resistance. The "Don't California my Texas" pleas are still alive and well, as Californians are blamed for raising the cost of living by outpricing current residents. The housing market has reached record numbers in the median home price year-over-year since the beginning of the pandemic. Austin was even predicted to be the most expensive city outside of California by the end of the year.
Still, Californians and even New Yorkers can't stay away. Companies and celebrities have followed, leading Texas transplant Elon Musk to label Austin's future as "the biggest boomtown that America has seen in half a century."